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Peripherally Acting Antiadrenergic Agents


Peripherally acting antiadrenergic agents can be used alone. Or they may be combined in a pill with a diuretic.

Common Names of Peripherally Acting Antiadrenergic Agents

The following table lists some of the common brand and generic names for peripherally acting antiadrenergic agents.

brand generic
Hylorel guanadrel sulfate
Ismelin guanethidine monosulfate
Serpasil reserpine

How Peripherally Acting Antiadrenergic Agents Work

Your brain makes chemicals called neurotransmitters. One type, called catecholamines, is normally released when you are stressed. These chemicals cause your heart to beat faster and with more force. They also cause your blood vessels to narrow. Both of these actions raise your blood pressure. Peripherally acting antiadrenergic medicines stop your brain, adrenal glands, and other tissues from releasing catecholamines. When catecholamines are blocked, your heart beats more slowly and with less force. Your blood vessels also relax and widen so that blood flows through them more easily. Both of these actions cause your blood pressure to go down.

Precautions and Possible Side Effects

Precautions to take if you are on peripherally acting antiadrenergic agents:

  • Talk with your doctor if you feel faint or dizzy. Blood pressure medicines can sometimes cause dizziness. This is most likely to happen when you change position all of a sudden. But other physical or medical problems that have nothing to do with your medicines can also cause dizziness.
  • Keep all your follow-up appointments with your doctor. Your doctor will check to see how your medicine is working and will adjust if if needed.
Possible side effects of peripherally acting antiadrenergic medicines:
  • chest pain
  • cough or wheezing
  • depression
  • dizziness or faintness
  • drowsiness
  • leg cramps
  • sexual problems
  • shortness of breath
  • swelling of feet or legs
  • tiredness
  • frequent urination
  • vision problems
  • weight gain

Not everyone who takes a peripherally acting antiadrenergic agent will have these side effects. You should not be afraid to take your medicine because of the side effects listed. They are listed so that you can watch out for them and tell your doctor right away if you experience any of them.

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Possible Drug Interactions with Peripherally Acting Antiadrenergic Agents

Before you take a peripherally acting antiadrenergic agent, tell all your doctors and your pharmacist about all the medicines you take. Include medicines you take for your blood pressure as well as for any other problem. Tell them about everything you take and how much you take each day, including all of the following:

  • prescription medicines
  • over-the-counter medicines
  • herbs
  • vitamin and mineral supplements

It's best to keep an updated list of these and bring a copy to give to your doctor. That way you can add to it whenever you take something new or delete the types you no longer take. Make a copy for each of your doctors so that they can keep it in your file. This complete list helps your doctor be better prepared to prescribe a peripherally acting antiadrenergic agent that is the least likely to interact with your other treatments.


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